Plenty of job opportunities in GCC but salaries will not rise significantly

Author: Stephen McBride | Date: 2 Feb 2016

Most organisations planning to hire but still expect a cautious year ahead

GCC organisations will take a cautious approach to payroll in 2016, despite an optimistic business outlook overall and a willingness to grow their workforces.
The recently published Hays survey of Gulf employers and workers showed that almost half of companies polled have a positive outlook for the year and 52 per cent intend to hire more staff, while only 11 per cent report likely layoffs.
“Unquestionably there is a caution in the market that wasn’t present 12 months ago, but for the career-minded employee, there will continue to be plenty of job opportunities in 2016,” said Chris Greaves, managing director, Hays UAE. “For employers, the large number of people who will consider moving jobs means there should be no lack of talent.”
However, despite all the expected hiring, few respondents believe salaries will increase significantly in their organisations. Just over a third said they believe salaries will rise by more than five per cent during the year and 36 per cent expected packages to remain the same or even decrease.
This contrasts sharply with employees’ ambitions. Over two-thirds of GCC workers (68 per cent) expect a pay rise in 2016 and 65 per cent are upbeat about their career prospects. But employee optimism about prospects may not be tied to confidence in current employers. More than half (57 per cent) said they plan a job move in the next 12 months, with 38 per cent of these citing salary as their principle motivation for leaving.
“We seem to have a business-as-usual mentality here in the Middle East, and foresee 2016 as a year of continued growth and opportunity,” said Gary Kitanoski, director at HR Source Consulting, a Dubai-based recruitment firm specialising in the IT, telecoms and media sectors.
“We have seen an element of caution enter the market, with some companies adopting a more calculated approach to 2016 budgets and hiring. As expected, it is clear that the oil and gas – and related sectors – are currently being squeezed and are in for a tough year. The banking and finance market has also seen some job cuts and restructuring.”
Kitanoski also believes that regional employers affected by the prevailing global economic slowdown will face the challenge of maintaining employee confidence, job security and career expectations. This, he said, will lead to employees adopting a more “safety-first” strategy to their careers.
“Typically there is a reluctance to hunt for new opportunities with fear of the ‘last in first out’ approach, should job cuts be made. I feel this will provide employers with an opportunity to capitalise and adopt new employee strategies related to staff retention and succession planning, all of which is somewhat lacking in the region,” he added.